Dance is the physical expression through movement and rhythm of relationships, feelings, and ideas. Dance fosters opportunities for discussion and practice. Regardless of cultural background or age, dance has been loved and practiced by all for generations. Even infants instinctively dance to a beat when they hear an exciting song! Freely moving arms and legs to a beat gives a satisfying sense of freedom and ownership. There is no doubt that dance is an excellent physical activity for all ages, even for little children. Due to its core characteristic of being exciting and not requiring any additional instruments, children can easily keep up their focus on dancing for a relatively long time.
For the last few decades, educators have found numerous benefits of dance. Besides its outstanding advantage in physical development and motor skills improvement, dance has been proven highly beneficial with people mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. Dance also has benefits for social health and development. For toddlers and young children, these benefits are big.
Among numerous benefits of dance, what especially stands out is that dance plays an important role in self-discovery. When children safely and creatively engage their different body parts in dance, they find intrinsic self-confidence. Furthermore, children naturally begin examining how each person’s physical traits and movement is uniquely different. As they acknowledge these differences, they learn to appreciate diversity as well as themselves, just the way they are.
Healthy Self-Confidence From Within. Confidence is a key to leading a fulfilling life in many aspects of life. It is an essential factor that enriches a child’s life from a very young age: With healthy confidence, a child naturally expresses their emotion and thoughts with others, communicates with other people effectively and gains resilience that helps them persevere through hardships.
Creative dance is an easy way to help children gain a better understanding of their bodies. It is an incredibly helpful and effective way to sow self-confidence in young ones. Children can gain a positive attitude and perspective toward themselves. For example, when a child finds that their dance moves may look different from other children’s due to things like different body shapes, they’re able to acknowledge these individual differences. This encourages self-acceptance, individuality, and uniqueness. It also helps the child grow comfortable in their own skin.
These positive outcomes intensify further when children engage in dance performances. It has been proven that students who are involved in performing dances in front of others gain more self-confidence than those who don’t.1 When children express who they are, what they think and how they feel through structured body movements, they find mutual acceptance and respect. They also boldly overcome anxiety with enhanced self-esteem believing in their own potential.
Healthy Self-Expression through Dance. Dance is a holistic activity: Its physical, mental, psychological as well as social advantages help people irrespective of their age live a fuller life. With little children, dance is an exceptional tool to gently encourage them to activate various muscles, express their thoughts, feelings and communicate them with others, and find their potential. Using dance as an outlet, they’re able to express themselves fully through physical activity, while channelling their inner emotions.
Equally importantly, through dance, children explore their identity: They build positive attitudes towards themselves and others, find confidence in their endeavours and gain heightened self-esteem. Expressing themselves in a way that’s positive both physically and mentally is a direct route to developing emotional maturity.
- Brenda Pugh McCutchen, Teaching Dance as Art in Education (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2006) 98-101. ↩︎